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Microsoft.then()

by Brandon on May 1st, 2013

As promised in my last post, I’m here to write a bit about my plan for life after Microsoft. Naturally, my experience at Microsoft informs my decisions and sets the initial direction I will take. This post itself is an example of the former. If you’re a past or present “Microsoftie” (or have worked at any number of similarly managed companies) you are familiar with the annual practice of setting commitments. I didn’t set out to do this, but as I was summarizing my plan to post here, I realized what I was really doing was setting my commitments for the rest of 2013. The format is obviously different from the MSFT template, but the spirit is the same.

First, I list off my high-level commitments for the rest of the year. I then list off specific deliverables. These are broken down into three buckets based on how far out they are, starting with the largest timespan, then zooming into nearer and shorter periods with more specificity.

So without further ado, here are my 2013 commitments:

Commitments:

  • Work.
    • Work a full (but flexible) work week on solo app (and/or web) development projects.
  • Learn.
    • Become familiar and proficient with mobile app platforms other than Windows 8/RT.
    • This includes looking at “native” platforms (Objective C + Cocoa Touch, Java on Android, XAML/C# for Windows Phone), and possibly Xamarin (despite a rather unpleasant recent interaction with their founder).
    • Attend startup-focused events.
    • Read. Topics include business, development, and design.
    • Learn by shipping, and iterating quickly.
  • Travel.
    • Check off some places on my long (and under-used) to-visit list.
    • Figure out if there’s someplace other than Seattle I’d rather live.
  • Improve my fitness routine.
    • I’ve been hitting the gym 2-3 times a week, but would like to up that and need to run more.
  • Enjoy the Seattle summer.
    • This one should be easy 🙂

Deliverables

Next 6-8 months
(roughly end of the year)

  • At least one app available on Windows, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
  • Visit England (my mother lives there most of the year now, and I have yet to visit her).
  • Decision about whether to stay in or leave Seattle.

Next 3-4 months

  • Port an app from Windows 8 to iOS.
    • I’ll be trying multiple approaches (HTML/JS, native, hybrid, Xamarin) to see what’s effective.
  • Iterate on first app or pivot based on response to my Windows 8 app release.

Next 0-2 months

  • Completed: Start an LLC (including all paper work, licenses, bank account, etc).
  • Ship my first app in the Windows Store on 5/20.
  • Ship the first update to that app, incorporating initial user feedback.
  • Begin prototyping a web and/or iOS version.

Every couple of months, I will do a “check-in” against these commitments here. I’ll assess my progress, and update/refine the farther out sets as they become nearer. Publishing the initial set and my check-ins here will, I hope, help keep my honest 🙂

As you can see, I’ve already completed one of my first steps. That was creating an official business entity under which I’ll operate. I’ve chosen to begin with an LLC formed here in Washington. After a good deal of research, I decided this made the most sense and kept my costs low for the time being. I handled all the paperwork myself, and it was easier than I’d first feared. Of course, you’re welcome to ask me if I feel differently when it comes time to report taxes.

My company is called B-side Software, and our first product is called Newseen. From their respective websites, you can follow either or both on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for e-mail announcements (I promise this channel will be used sparingly, mainly to announce product availability). I’ll also be posting regularly about them here, though this blog focus more on my personal experiences in building both a startup and actual products (i.e. apps).

In the end, success against these commitments may not result in a self-sustaining business. That’s okay. Obviously, that would be a fantastic outcome, and one I will strive to achieve. There are just too many other factors (not the least of which is my own inexperience with all the non-engineering aspects of the business) at play to reasonably commit to it happening this year. Instead, I see achievement of these commitments resulting in one of three possibilities:

  1. I find myself with a self-sustaining business ready to grow in 2014.
  2. I have a business which won’t pay the bills but which I believe in fully enough to seek external investment, or make, ahem, “lifestyle adjustments” in order to push forward on my own.
  3. I decide I’m just not very good at and/or passionate about this whole business thing, and find a cool place to go work for someone else once again.

That’s not to say something else won’t come out of the blue, but those the outcomes I see as most likely, and I’m comfortable with any of them. Whatever comes to pass, it should be a fun ride!

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